Why Your Mind Needs a Tech Break
Do you ever feel pulled in a thousand directions?
Like you just can’t think of one more idea or, conversely, that you have a hundred ideas and can’t even bring one through to completion?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time for a techno-cleanse!
How Technology Can Weaken Our Thinking
There are varying thinking levels associated with the tasks we undertake using technology. While it’s possible to accomplish high-level thinking when using technology, the boundary between high-level thinking and mind candy is microscopically thin–especially when we’re using internet connected technology.
For example, imagine you’re a graphic designer drafting a truly unique piece for a client. Perhaps you’re working in Adobe. You want to clarify a point so you jump to your internet browser. While online, you check in on the latest news. You may or may not go down a rabbit hole, but in that moment you’ve already taken your thinking level from maybe a 7 or 8 out of 10 to a 3 out of 10.
With alerts and apps and email and social media and calls and texts, we are subject to this type of mental whiplash day in and day out. A steady diet of lower-level thinking is hazardous to our thinking: it’s harder to root our minds into complex challenges that requires creativity to solve them. Our general thinking becomes more surface-level and we cease to pro-actively uncover and develop new possibilities.
Once our minds are accustomed to this frenetic pattern, we get hooked on hits with the latest information input. Even as I write this article I see my phone out of the corner of my eye and wonder if I missed a text. I have to cover it with a draft of an article to get it out of my head.
This state of affairs is not good for humanity. If we are all addicted to inputs and not thinking deeply, we become reactive instead of creative. (See the anagram?)
I’m writing this from the perspective of one who knows what it was like to grow up without 24/7 tech. But what about the generations that don’t have experience living in a non-digital reality?
Prepare for Your Techno-Cleanse
To solve this modern-day thinking problem, I call upon as many of us as possible to take a techno-cleanse. This is a great thing to do on vacation but if you don’t have one upcoming, take a tech vacation anyway. Turn off your phone, computer, Alexa—anything with internet connectivity or alerts. If you have to, start small and expand from a half day to a full day to a full weekend and even to a week.
To experience the best results from your techno-cleanse, prepare before you begin:
- Set an out-of-office email.
- Tell your friends, family, and colleagues that you will be offline and detail the specific days and times.
- If you will be traveling, think about what you’d normally need on your phone and make preparations. For example, get some paper maps, print out directions before you go (MapQuest still exists!), write down the addresses of restaurants and sites you want to visit.
- If you can’t bear to get paper maps, set one family phone as the traveling phone and only use it for logistics when absolutely necessary.
- Get your family on board to techno-cleanse with you, either at home or on the road.
Get Ready for Growth
I hope that I don’t have to remind you how to live in the moment without technology, but I’ll do it anyway for inspiration. Remember the good old days when phones were connected to walls and computers could only be found in labs? If you didn’t experience those days, ask someone who did to share stories.
Think, write, notice, and talk to people in line with you. Free yourself from frenetic mental whiplash. Cleanse your mind from your addiction to incoming information. If there’s something you just need to look up online, write it down on paper and go back to it later.
Soak in life.
Spend time in nature.
Smile at your kids.
A prairie fire strengthens and revitalizes the prairie; a techno-cleanse can help strengthen and revitalize your thinking. During a prairie fire, useless and invasive growth burns, enriching the soil with nutrients while leaving roots unharmed. The soil is nourished for stronger, quicker growth.
This is what will happen with your own thinking after you techno-cleanse. You will be poised for deep, productive, growth-oriented thinking!
Kathryn Haydon helps you maximize your creative strengths so you can do your best work. Through keynotes, workshops, and consulting, she trains individuals, leaders, and teams to find the unique spark that leads to deep engagement and productivity.